Skip to content

Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s daily newsletter.

I’m Luke Coppen and I aim to guide you each weekday morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.

😇 Today’s saints: St. Jerome Emiliani, St. Josephine Bakhita (optional memorials).

📜 Today’s readings:  Gn 2:4b-9, 15-17 ▪  Ps 104:1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30 ▪  Mk 7:14-23.

📅 Today’s observance: International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking (Italian papal video message).

🗞  Starting seven

1:  At today’s general audience, Pope Francis thanked God for allowing him to realize the “two dreams” of visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, and appealed for help for victims of the Turkey–Syria earthquake (full text, photo, full video).

2:  Church leaders in Syria have appealed for sanctions to be lifted after more than 2,500 people were killed in the country in Monday’s earthquake (Sant’Egidio Italian appeal).

3:  A Nicaraguan court has sentenced four more Catholic priests to 10 years in prison on conspiracy charges (Cardinal Hollerich statement).

4:  The Jesuits’ internal investigation into the Rupnik case is not expected to be completed before Feb. 17, according to the Italian daily la Repubblica (Italian report).

5:  Spanish Jesuit Bishop Juan Antonio Martínez Camino has expressed concern about the “synodal way” and appealed to German Catholics not to “go down the wrong path again” (German report).

6:  Fr. John Zuhlsdorf highlights what appears to be a new letter to bishops from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship on the application of Traditionis custodes.

7:  And Linda Reeves describes two college basketball teammates’ journey into religious life.

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

🧐  Look closer

The other assembly  While much attention is being devoted to the European synodal continental assembly in Prague, there is another continental gathering taking place on the other side of the world.

Oceania’s continental synodal assembly began in Suva, the capital of Fiji, on Feb. 5. The opening address was given by Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny (later pictured in a bold open-necked shirt) and a video message delivered by Synod supremo Cardinal Mario Grech.

‘Save the ocean’  The gathering is being held under the auspices of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO), which brings together Church leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and many Pacific islands.

The continental assembly coincides with a meeting of the bishops’ conferences of Australia (ACBC), New Zealand (NZCBC), Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI), and the Pacific (CEPAC), which takes place every four years.

The six-day gathering in Suva is informed by Fijian culture, with a traditional welcome ceremony, Mass “steeped in Fijian spirituality,” and regular “veitalanoa,” or chats. On Feb. 8, the assembly’s fourth day, delegates met with Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Discussions have a strong environmental focus, with “Save the ocean to save Mother Earth” chosen as the meeting’s theme.

What’s next  Like the Prague assembly, the Suva meeting is expected to result in a final document that will be submitted to the Vatican ahead of the synod on synodality, a gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome in October.

What's Starting Seven? Here's what you're reading, and how to get must-read morning news in your inbox, each day.

🔍 Stories to watch

🇺🇸  U.S. President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address that “if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.”

🇷🇺  Archbishop Giovanni d’Aniello, the apostolic nuncio to Russia, and Belarus’ ambassador to Russia have held discussions in Moscow.

🇫🇷  French bishops’ conference president Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort has said that priestly ordination is not “the solution” to the challenge of expanding women’s roles in the Church (German interview).

🇨🇭  Swiss Bishop Joseph Bonnemain has decided to maintain a traditionalist parish in his Diocese of Chur (French report, German report).

🇬🇧  British Olympic champion Mo Farah has been named patron of the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation, and Abuse at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham.

🇸🇸  South Sudan’s Catholic bishops have appealed for justice after 21 people were shot dead in the country’s Central Equatoria state.

🇹🇿  Dozens of former Muslims have been baptized in the Orthodox Church in Tanzania.

📅  Coming soon

Feb. 11  One-day conference with Bishop Robert Barron in London, England.

Feb. 12  The Middle East’s continental synodal assembly begins in Beirut, Lebanon; World Marriage Day.

Feb. 13  Final report of Portugal’s independent abuse commission due to be released; Apostolic visitation of the French Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon starts; Continental phase regional assembly for the Central America-Mexico region begins in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Feb. 14  Episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Patrick Neary in Saint Cloud, Minnesota; Release of report on abuse in Germany’s Diocese of Essen due to be published.

Feb. 20  Continental phase regional assembly for the Caribbean region begins in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Feb. 22  Ash Wednesday, Lent begins.

Feb. 25  Nigeria’s general election.

Feb. 26  Start of Roman Curia’s Lenten spiritual exercises.

Feb. 27  Continental phase regional assembly for the Bolivarian region begins in Quito, Ecuador.

Have a happy feast of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita.
-- Luke

Do you know someone who would appreciate reading this newsletter? Invite your friends to sign up here.

Start your day with Starting Seven in your inbox.